Friday, August 2, 2013

Some Thoughts on Manners

Manners. You either have them or you do not.

Courage. Like manners, is something that you either have or you do not.

In the early 21st Century, there is a distinct shortage of both manners and courage. You see it in your daily life, maybe in the way that customers treat the waiting staff in restaurants or fast food stores. You see it on the highways of this country, often in the form of one vehicle cutting off another vehicle which in turn, is followed by an exchange of bird flipping by both parties. Taken to the extreme, we call this "road rage".  I know of one acquaitance of mine who was actually shot and killed  as a result of a road rage episode. For what purpose?

You see people in public shoving food in their faces, speaking loudly on their cell phones, oblivious to the fact that everyone around them can hear every word of their conversation. You hear their music blasting out of their head phones. Hardly anyone opens doors for seniors or women anymore. Fewer still seem to have any idea as to what table manners are. Table manners are a dying art form, sad to say.

Things are worse on-line
The paucity of courage and manners is even greater on the internet. People who lack the courage to say something  negative to the object of his/her derision face to face, think nothing about being uncivil or rude to another person since they have the safety of their anonymity of their keyboard and the internet.

You see it often in the comments sections of on-line news sites or political opinion sites (for both the Left and the Right). I can not believe some of the rude, dishonest and untrue things that people will post on the internet. It is particularly rampant on Facebook, where many "friends" seem to delight in posting disparaging "stories" culled from their favorite Liberal or Conservative web sites. Do people really believe that they are going to change other people's minds by posting their personal political propaganda on a Facebook page? 

Let me put it to  you this way: I've been married to my wife for 15 years and I have yet to convince her, on any point, that my political opinion is correct and hers is, well, incorrect. If I can not change my wife's opinion, what makes me think that I am going to change your opinion by posting some canned political propaganda on Facebook. I think that you, the reader, know the answer to that question.

This is largely why I am staying away from certain wargaming internet forums for awhile, i.e. I am tired of having to deal with the cowards and the ill-mannered in an area of what is supposed to be a hobby for me. A hobby is supposed to bring you some entertainment and relaxation, and not aggrivation.

My friend Stokes S. says it much better than I can, so I have copied his thoughts about manners on many online discussion forums. You can find his thoughts on his new blog: "The Average Guy's Guide To Classic Style".

In many online discussion forums, some of which do not necessarily concern clothing, there are a lot people who view manners and dressing decently as somehow false, stiff, and unnecessary.  What a sad state of affairs that is.  How can basic polite behavior and consideration for those around us be bad things?

The truth is that there is nothing at all fake about coming across as a nice and agreeable individual, whether at work, at a ball game with friends, or enjoying a glass of lemonade with the family on the back porch.  As average guys, let's strive for better standards in our personal interaction with others -- including our behavior at the table -- and the way we dress.  It's just the right thing to do. 

If we make an effort to remember and practice the things our families hopefully taught us*, good manners and proper decorum will not come across as insincere and forced.  They will, instead be what they should.  Natural, easy, and comfortable.  Like a well worn-in pair of loafers.  You don't even have to think about them, but they are there.  You wear 'em all the time without a second thought.  They're just part of the scenery.

Making a good impression with people -- friends of long standing and new acquaintances both -- is not about tacky and ostentatious displays, obnoxious bragging, or making others feel bad about themselves.  Demonstrating a certain level of basic respect for people, occasions, and settings is, however, vital when it comes to leaving a favorable impression with those we meet.  Even if you're knocking back a few cold ones at the campsite with your old college buddies after a day of fishing on the lake. 

At the end of the day, I think that it is much easier being nice to people and respectful to others, even if you don't agree with them. It really does not take a lot of effort to be civil and nice.

Or as Abraham Lincoln said in the movie "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure":

"Be excellent to each other."


  1. Well said, Fritz, well said.

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Urich von B.

  2. Sir, you are a gentleman. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I wish you improved happiness and greater health.

    Best Regards,
    Bill White

  3. "...and party on, dudes!"

    I also agree with you wholeheartedly.

  4. I try to, as that bumper sticker says . . .

    "Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty"

    I can't tell you how many smiles I've put on the faces of people simply by saying (and meaning) things like "that blouse is a good color on you" or "you've brightened my day" or simply by saying "please" and "thank you" to clerks in the grocery store.

    A very good post, sir. I thank you for it.

    -- Jeff

  5. Jim,
    Very well written, sir.


  6. I couldn't agree with you more. Could I just add that there is a distinct lack of patience & foresight exhibited in many aspects of modern life, again this behaviour seems exacerbated in the case of online purchasing.

    Regards HGA

  7. "Politeness costs nothing"

    I always try to apply the same standards on electronic media as I would face to face. I've also found that pausing and giving a considered response stops a situation escalating where perceived rudeness is really caused by differences in language/culture.

  8. It is sad that it needs to be said many times and day. And you have said it very well - with passion but balance.

    Now, having digested that I am off to buy my first minis from Fife & Drum - equipment here I come.


  9. If I recall correctly, you used to be in the center of some incendiary political flame wars on the Dropzone forum yourself, back in the day :)

  10. Well said and sad but true that modern 'culture' is lacking in any form of manners decorum or indeed culture


  11. Very well said, these are trying times, myself and my wife call it devolution.


  12. Mikko: I think that you must have me confused with someone else. I have never been on the Dropzone forum, much less talked politics on it.

    As a matter of policy, I do not talk politics on the internet. I've found that my political biases can cause me to make some very wrong assessments of people simply because we are at polar ends of the political spectrum. Once I have gotten to know said people, I realized that my initial impression of them was entirely wrong, that they were very fine people. Politics can easily color how we view someone else. It is a bad path to follow.

    I know some wonderful people whose political views are vastly different than mine. I am glad to have them as friends and am equally as glad that I have avoided the temptation to mix it up with them discussing politics.


  13. My mistake then. I mistook you for another wargamer going by the name "DerAlteFritz" who talked often about his Prussian general of choice..

  14. Jim,

    Thank you for making this statement and if more of us would take a stand on this type of behavior (or lack of it) then maybe the internet would be a better place for what it was intended - the free exchange of information.

  15. Well said, if you can't say anything nice or positive best to say nothing at all when it comes conversation in whatever medium.

  16. Jim, Two things I was brought up on - My Father often quoted the Wickhamist principle, "Manners maketh man" usually when I was not observing it, and my grandmother drummed into me that all persons of an apparently female gender shall be treated as ladies, until they prove otherwise. Which I rather like - she was born in the reign of the dear old queen, in 1895. Graham

  17. Well said Fritz, and good health to you and yours.

  18. Well said that man,

    A number of forums are full of people who have not thought about the comments they make, or even how it will be recieved, it is very hard for tone to be felt online. Granted some come to annoy and generally upset people to get a kick out of being annoying or arguementative. A robust discussion can happen without name calling, some however chime in with snide comments that change the tone of the discussion very quickly.

    The TMP 18th century has been suffering from this for some time, Gentlemen have forgotton thier manners, poor moderation has not helped. I hope that you return in the near future as you are a wealth of information.

    Sunny Australia

  19. I concur with pretty much all you have said (though I am guilty of sometimes forgetting to say please!).

    We nearly got killed driving up to the Claymore show by an absolute psychotic driver.

    I think we've probably all experienced more than our fare share of rude comments on the various fora we war gamers reside.


  20. Too true. I have been fond of saying likewise lately. As a culture, we need to return to a more civil society. I find myself frequently frustrated on the road and while travelling in airports by inconsiderate travelers. Mostly I take it in stride, but it can be quite upsetting, and I admit to mumbled curses and dark thoughts. ;-)
    The internet, especially Facebook has, indeed, become a minefield. I still venture there, and despite knowing that it is unlikely that I will change minds, I continue to tilt at windmills (almost always respectfully if provocatively - I admit to being less than gracious toward some hard-core militia types who were flaunting their intention to disobey any new gun laws immediately after the recent school shooting).

    Thanks for the reminder that a kind word and basic politeness is the right way for a gentleman.

  21. So very true. I follow a particular Board Game forum and happened to respond on a thread. I was immediately attacked by a forum veteran as a "Necroposter", which I assumed meant posting to an old thread. I deleted my post and must say that I have no interest in posting ever again.

    Then you have all these non-game related threads, where they bash each other's opinions on politics or the news of the day. Gaming forums should be about gaming and nothing else.

    Appreciated your post.